Nearly All Boxed Mac and Cheese Contains Phthalates, New Study Shows

Nearly All Boxed Mac and Cheese Contains Phthalates, New Study Shows

New research suggests macaroni and cheese powder contains high concentrations of potentially risky chemicals.

Slate points out that the study, first reported by The New York Times, leaves out how much phthalates were found. Natural cheeses had the lowest levels of the chemical, while processed cheese products had the highest levels.

While the coalition says phthalates pose a serious threat to the health of pregnant women and children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports health effects from exposure to low levels of the chemicals are unknown. Cheese powders, like those used in packaged boxes of macaroni and cheese, had the highest levels of phthalates of all the different cheese products tested, more than doubling processed cheese which also had high levels of the toxin, and quadrupling so-called natural cheeses. But as the Times points out, in 2014 the Consumer Product Safety Commission asked federal agencies to consider the chemicals' risks "with a view to supporting risk management steps".

The analysis was done by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging, a consortium of environmental health advocacy groups, and has not been published in a peer reviewed journal. Instead, they find their way into our food, personal care products and toys when the oil and gas, which is no laughing matter. High levels of exposure have been linked to fertility issues for both men and women, as well as behavioral and neurodevelopmental issues in children who are exposed to them in utero. While slathering phthalates on your skin or popping pills coated in them is certainly not appealing, eating them in our food products is potentially worse, particularly when these foods are eaten in high volumes by children, whose developing bodies and brains are even more vulnerable than our adult bodies.

The other groups were the Ecology Center, Healthy Babies Bright Futures and Safer States.

The study noted that phthalates are not intentionally added to food, but can accidentally migrate to food during packaging, processing, and preparation.

Nine of the products analyzed were created by Kraft, which is the leading provider of mac and cheese products across the country. "Our products are safe for consumers to enjoy".

"Our belief is that (phthalates are) in every mac "n" cheese product - you can't shop your way out of the problem", Belliveau said.

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